Posts Tagged ‘new york times’

Paywalls, ebooks, and making way in a digital world

May 25, 2012

My distaste for Amazon’s foray into publishing has made it into a number of posts, but the only alternative I keep spouting is, “Go to Barnes and Noble!” (Or their website). But this isn’t exactly breaking new ground for publishers, and finding a way to stay afloat in a changing world. Then I came across this today. Now, magazines/newspapers are clearly a different beast from book publishing, or at least they have become different, but there is something that seems stunningly similar: the distribution/pay models being pushed by outside companies (Apple, Amazon) do not make a lot of money for the producers of the content. The NY Times went behind a paywall and, as far as I know, have done pretty damn well with it. I pay for it, and I love the coverage they provide. Now, the Financial times have pushed away from the Apple store, set up their own ap, and are enjoying a booming success.

I wonder if this is something the publishing industry could learn from.

Set up their own aps, allow people to subscribe to them for X dollars, distribute some works through digital serials, give access to extra materials, etc. In other words, customize their brands, personalize their products, and provide materials that go above and beyond the books themselves. Is it more work? Oh, hellz yeah. Could it pay off big? Yes. It could also give control back to the publishers. And if they are really afraid Amazon won’t play along, so what? I’m sure Barnes and Noble would be more than willing to find a way to co-exist with such an environment if it meant it could strengthen the prospects of their brick and mortar stores. Independent book stores would probably be all for it, if it meant they had a stronger ally in fighting off Amazon. I have a feeling even a lot of the authors themselves wouldn’t mind getting into something where they could have a stronger impact on the end product and its distribution/marketing/etc.

Maybe none of this is possible, but I want to see the publishing industry not get steamrolled by the digital walmart. And I wouldn’t mind shelling out $5 a month to Penguin if they provide the right content.  Give me serialized novels from up and coming writers, give me interviews with writers and editors,  or notes/revisions kept by the writer, etc.  I don’t know what all, but the possibilities are endless. Give me a reason to give you my money, Publishing Industry. I give a damn about books, and I want you to stick around.

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Tech and Books, Books and Tech, Mortal Enemies

December 15, 2009

a couple of links today. The firstis an excellent blog entry from Nick Bilton regarding the publishing industry’s backward approach towards e-publishing. Nick tackles the publishing industry’s decision to back up e-book sales in fear that it harming their hardcover sales. Is this line familiar? If you followed the music industry’s fight against file sharing it should be. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you have probably noted that I am very e-friendly and have at least hinted towards where i think the publishing industry, and e-literature, needs and will go. And I agree with pretty much everything Nick says in his blog.

What amazes me is how similar the fears and reactions are between the way the publishing industry is approaching e-commerce and the way the recording industry approached it (and got beaten like a mule).  If I’m a big book publisher, I am going over what the recording industry did and attempting to do just the opposite. Instead of running from the concept of selling literature online, look for ways to make it more lucrative. Look for ways to package other stuff with it that might be enticing to readers while also cost effective. Maybe even open up  a whole new division dedicated to publishing new authors ONLY online where the costs of the publishing can be more tightly controlled and publicity more easily attainable.  Once an author has established an audience through cheaper e-lits (maybe with novellas and short stories) then move on to publishing that author’s first novel in hardcover.  suddenly you have an affordably created audience for a first time author and stand a better chance of not losing your hat over publishing the guy.

In other words, e-lit can be the new paperback. Where writers once cut their teeth selling gobs of paperbacks before getting a hardcover release, they can now sell billions of bits.  There could be a whole new world for writers here if publishers would only go with it rather than try to fight it.

the second blog is from chris dawson at  zdnet. He steps into the e-reader fray with an angle on Stephen Covey’s recent choice to sign an exclusive deal with amazon to release his books only for the Kindle.  He’s against the closed format for e-readers, pushing for an open format that would open up the e-publishing world for everyone to take part in.

The scary thing is his comparison to how Apple’s Iphone effectively cornered the cell phone market because of the ridiculous amount of exclusive apps it offers is quite possible. If any one company can convince a great number of high-selling authors to sign only with them, it would effectively cut the e-reader and e-literature markets off at the knees. Regardless of how powerful or versatile a tablet PC from Apple might be, no one will buy it as a reader if they can’t download the newest Stephen King or Nora Roberts book to it.

But I think money will keep it from happening. While Amazon can entice an author here or there right now, authors/agents aren’t dumb and they know that once the e-lit market takes off, there will be more money made from whoever can sell to the biggest audience. Which points to an open format that can be read on a variety of devices.

also, there is the simple force of ego. Writers (and I know, I kinda am one, albeit an unpaid one) like to be read. the idea of limiting their audience can’t be overly appealing.  While there will always be someone taking the largest payday out there, and I don’t blame them at all for it, I think a lot of writers would rather sacrifice a couple of bucks if it means they greatly enhance their exposure.